When the Canton Chamber of Commerce hosts its Annual Kick-Off Party and Taste of the Chamber Thursday, the gathering will be much more than a chance to indulge in food and conversation.
It will also signal some key changes for the organization, which will officially unveil a new logo, mission statement and focus.
Early next week, the chamber will preview those changes to members but officials said the organization plans to focus a lot more of its attention on a favorable business climate — something members have requested.
“Advocacy for its members are what most of them are looking for,” Executive Director Phil Worley said.
For the past several months the chamber has worked on revamping its image.
Board members held brainstorming sessions and focus groups and polled its members. That data showed members want an organization that is more active in policies, such as town land-use regulations.
Just last week, the town released a draft rewrite of Canton’s zoning regulations and is encouraging input, something the chamber sees as an opportunity to speak out.
“We’re going to be paying much closer than we ever have to these kinds of activities,” Worley said.
In addition to a new mission statement and logo designed by graphic design and advertising professional Eduardo Barrios, the chamber is also making other changes, such as paring down its committees from 13 to 5.
Increased community relations are also a goal of the chamber. For example, board members want to work more closely with the school system, perhaps finding greater internship opportunities with students.
Recent community efforts include the Chamber Saver, a coupon effort mailed to Canton residents.
It’s an inexpensive way for members to reach a lot of people and the chamber hopes a way for residents to learn how to support local businesses.
“We want to be an indispensable partner for our members and a valued partner for residents,” Barrios said.
Of course the kick off party also provides the chance for some networking, fun and a way to try local food offerings. So far the following will be participating — Cafe Louise, McDonald’s of Canton, Cake Gypsy, The Bagel Deli, Reno's Drive-In, La Trattoria, Crown and Hammer, Rice Fields, Francesca's Wine Bar & Bistro, Village Cafe & Bistro, and Canton Creamery.
The event will be held at Canton Barn, 75 Old Canton Road, Canton on Thursday, Jan. 31, from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Chamber members are encouraged to bring guests and business owners and professionals are welcome to come learn more about the organization.